In the article I cover the first Dutch Tiny House Meet-Up, I talk about some major practical differences (in comparison to the USA) like weight, legality and trailers. And more…
Besides my article, you’ll also find reviews of Tiny House books and gadgets in this issue. Some maybe well needed help and advice on downsizing. A cool story of a couple traveling and living in a VW camper. Pics of a not so typical and gorgeous Tiny House. Just to name a few. 79 Pages!
You can purchase the entire magazine (for $4,99, by using a credit card or PayPal). The Magazine is a PDF file, also available for iOs and Android. During the check-out process, you will see the e-mail address of Kent Griswold. That’s the owner and founder of Tiny House Magazine.
The Tiny House Movement is spreading (yeah!). It has entered my own country, the Netherlands, now. I’m amongst one of the first people to build a Tiny Home and I’m no longer alone. A good thing if you ask me. What is it like over here? Are there differences between us and the U.S.? (YES!) And where are we at? Here’s a small introduction, through my eyes, to the Tiny House Movement abroad.
December 2013, that’s when the Tiny house Movement hit me. A big yes in my heart showed up and I started fantasizing about building my own Tiny Home. In between my searches for info on composting toilets, wind mills, solar panels, wood types, insulation, natural materials, etc., I also wanted to know if there were others in Holland who have this dream of building their own Tiny Home. I searched the web. And I searched. There was not much to be found… I did stumble onto some articles on Tiny Houses but they were all talking about the movement in the U.S. I gave up on page 10 of the search results. I started wondering. Am I the first? I might be, or at least one of the firsts so it seems. A year went by. I changed jobs, downsizing took place, I transitioned into Tiny, moved to another part of the country, and there I was: January 2015. Let’s turn this dream into a reality! I designed my logo, got a website up and running with a blog and started with the project My Tiny House NL. Again, I searched the web. Any Tiny House related changes in Holland? Well, look at that! YES! Some other initiatives showed themselves online too. Some really cool builds! Just a handful. They all turned out to be for rent: B&B, hotel concept, small homes for campsites, pricy small design homes for the city. But not so much on Tiny Living. Yet…
It’s Sunday November 8, 2015. The door is ringing. A somewhat familiar face, I’ve seen his picture on the Dutch Tiny House Facebook group, is excitedly waiting to get in. Welcome! The first visitor arrived! We are seriously having a Tiny House meet up, in the Netherlands! An entire day in my co-house. (Lucky me: I live small on 200 square feet in a huge shared home. Great place for a meet-up). Sixteen in total showed up, A versatile group: architect students who can’t wait to design Tiny Homes, a carpenter who recently finished a model Tiny Home, a film maker who entered the scenery right at the beginning and got his documentary up and running last October. And finally, some folks who are excited about seriously, actually living in them. Several couples, singles, and me. A good day this was! New connections were being made and before the pics of the meeting were even online, someone stood up to organize a new one. In January. Other serious enthusiasts are lining up already. The fever is clearly spreading, and it’s spreading fast!
Yes. We are. House boats, small apartments, narrow buildings, a few yurts and more. While visiting the U.S. and the Jamboree last summer, I always ordered small sized coffee and even then it’s bigger than what you would get here. Yes, we are, in the eyes of an American, all about small. But small does not a Tiny House person make, in my opinion. These small homes will cost you a lot of money, still. The bigger the city, the smaller the homes, the more expensive the property. It’s hard, or even impossible, to get a reasonable priced small home in the Netherlands without a mortgage. Unless you build your own Tiny Home. Changes are coming.
That’s where we are at now: a small, fanatic, fast growing group ready to go Tiny and live it. Changing the dynamics on the housing market in several ways. Are there any practical differences? Rules, regulations? Yes. Let’s talk about three major Tiny House issues: legality, weight, and trailers.
It’s still officially illegal. A newly built home, for permanent living should be this big, that high, that spacious etc. Several building codes include the following: a door in a new home should be at least 2.3m (approx. 7.5 feet). Most of it is too big for a Tiny Home. Permits are also required. On this property you are only allowed to have one home, one barn and if you want something else on the lot there is a lot of paperwork, time, meetings and a not so easy change of permits. I’ll spare you the details, but in the Netherlands almost every inch of land has a certain purpose on paper. Since the Netherlands is highly populated, there is not a lot of space where you can “hide.” At the same time things are changing. There are a few local governments who are interested in the concept of Tiny Villages (Almere, Hoorn) or allow small, sustainable structures in eco villages. Other counties tolerate Mongolian yurts. Maybe also Tiny Homes? I hope so. I know most of us will not wait for it. If you want another way, you sometimes have to create one. Show them what it’s like. Tell them why you do it. Share your thoughts on why it’s necessary to expand the variety of the housing market. I believe it’s been said before: governments are ruled by people. People can listen and you can talk to them about it. They may change their minds on the permits, allowing you to continue on your path to Tiny Living.
Probably the biggest practical challenge for Tiny Dwellers is the trailer and weight of a Tiny Home. Here in the Netherlands, and I know also in at least Germany, Belgium, Austria and Denmark, we are bound to weight restrictions on the trailer. The weight, including the trailer, cannot go above 3,500 kg (7,716 lb). At least, if you want to tow it with a huge car. Weight, space and materials is an advanced Tetris game for each person in the movement already, but this makes it a little bit more challenging choice for most of us. For example: the somewhat heavy plywood is not a first choice for most of us. We need to be creative, luckily it’s possible, to get the rigidness of the structure from cross beams for example. Or from an even more creative way to use furniture and cabinets as an important part of the structure.
Another challenge and difference is the trailer itself. Before it’s allowed on the road, it’s checked by the authority. Any structural changes on the trailer afterwards, like welding the floor in a different manner so it’s fit for a Tiny Home, needs to go back for another check-up before it’s allowed to go on the road again. Will they? To avoid being denied by authority after a stressful period of time, welding the costly trailer or even building your own fantastic home on it, most of us therefore treat the homes as cargo. Not becoming entirely one with the trailer but placing it in a way so the home could be removed, if needed (hopefully not!). Leaving the trailer just as it is. This is until recently, because one of our Tiny People is talking to a Dutch trailer manufacturer to produce real Tiny Home trailers, for a reasonable price, checked, legal and ready to go on the road with a home on its back! Probably still as cargo, but fit for a Tiny Home. See? More changes, for the good. Ideas and efforts from the Dutch (and European) Tiny House Tribe pop up like daisies. I could go on for a while. Too much to share actually. It’s heart-warming to see and thrilling to be a part of. I’m not alone anymore. We’re not alone.
So for now, from a very rainy, windy, stormy but gezellig (cozy) small home in the Netherlands, I wish you Happy Holidays #TinyHouseTribe! I’m off to milk some cows, and go there by bike… of course!
PS — I talk about ‘we’ because I’m part of this active group in the Netherlands. I am, however, not their spokesman (woman). This was a small introduction through my eyes. Oh, and just in case: Dutch, Holland, The Netherlands, it’s all about the same. Don’t ask me why.
PPS — The title Going Dutch, you may know, is a saying. You eat out and both pay your share. This to me is a nice metaphor for the Dutch movement too. At first because the first Tiny house meetup was organized that way: bring your own. We also contribute to the movement in various ways. Each and every one in their unique way, taking care of our own share. Together we put up a nice meal.